This has been a trying year for cultural activities. The last cultural calendar of the year should and would be full of Christmas, New Year and other holiday festivals and events for the whole family. Sadly, the spike in coronavirus cases in British Columbia has reduced or cancelled many of those in-person family events. Still, many places have made the transition to online activity or have greatly improved their social distancing procedures. Have a safe and happy holiday – see you all in the new year!
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The Upper Side of the Sky
Now until Dec. 31
The Western Front will present an online exhibition of The Upper Side of the Sky by Toronto-based artist Jawa El Khash, an interactive virtual reality archive of the ancient ruins of Palmyra in Syria. The project materializes the ruins of a site, destroyed by ISIS during the Syrian civil war, among an ecosystem of architecture, animal and plant life. Agricultural archives, 3D models and celestial scales generate an embodied experience of what is lost, forefronting the value of digital preservation and production within majority diasporic populations – much of whom are attuned to the orchestrated destruction of the homeland. For more information, check out the Western Front’s website.
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Dec. 11, 2020–Jan. 11, 2021
A 60-minute feature-length film, Rituæls brings together works dating from the Middle Ages to the 21st century, launching a series of films that create various multidisciplinary universes. This premiere screening will be accompanied by a discussion with the members of the group. Rituæls will be accessible free of charge until Dec. 13 2020, after which it will be available for rental until Jan. 11, 2021. For more information about the film and the topic, please visit their website.
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Althea Thauberger’s The State of the Situation
Dec. 12, 10 a.m.–12 noon
Through photography, film, video and performance, Canadian visual artist Althea Thauberger’s art practice is primarily concerned with the collaborative possibilities of the social documentary form. Her recent projects involve an extended engagement with the sites of their production in order to trace broader social and ideological histories. The Contemporary Art Gallery will be hosting an online Zoom launch for Althea Thauberger’s newest publication, The State of the Situation. Check out the gallery’s website for the Zoom link and more information.
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Scott Billings’ pseudo-here
Dec. 11, 2020–Jan. 16, 2021
Hoaxes, falsehoods and fictions are at play in Scott Billings’ new body of work, pseudo-here, opening at the Richmond Art Gallery on Dec. 11. The Vancouver-based artist draws from a seemingly fathomless pool of mathematics, physics, art and popular culture to fake and make meticulously constructed objects embedded with intriguing histories and questionable truths. The way Billings works with physical and virtual matter obliges us to consider how we think about it. It is material yet immaterial, weighty yet almost weightless, here and yet not quite here. Check out the art gallery’s website for more details.
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Dec. 11, 2020–Feb. 7, 2021
The exhibition Miradas Alternas explores alternative approaches to the photographic representation of violence in contemporary Mexico. It features photographs, video, and printed material by female lens-based artists from Mexico: Juliana Alvarado, Alejandra Aragón, Koral Carballo, Mariceu Erthal and Sonia Madrigal. Combining artistic, documentary, and journalistic approaches, their work responds to the ongoing femicide crisis that has exponentially increased in recent years, along with enforced disappearances and multiple forms of criminal violence, amid an ongoing armed conflict of unimaginable horror. Rejecting the forensic gaze common to news photography and mass media, they draw on language, use poetic devices, and employ performative strategies to produce photographic images differently. Focusing on the effects of loss, grief, rage and fear, their work evokes the absence of missing and murdered women and tells stories that claim spaces for presence, visibility and justice.
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Where do we go from here?
Dec. 12, 2020–May 30, 2021
The Vancouver Art Gallery’s Where do we go from here? proposes that we think critically about the role of both art and exhibition-making in the production of narratives about our past, present and future. It encourages us to reconsider our understanding of history (personal, local, national) and progress (artistic, cultural, social), while articulating perspectives that challenge colonial systems of knowledge and methods of representation. The exhibition presents recent acquisitions from the Gallery’s permanent collection, as well as select loans from local artists, most produced in the last five years. The works are varied in terms of media and subject matter, yet collectively offer contemplations on the past, present and future – across time, bodies of land, and space. Some of the artists engage directly with the legacies of the Canadian modernist enterprise, while others attempt to destabilize inherited beliefs and accepted historical narratives.
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Music for the Winter Solstice 2020 Watch Party on YouTube
Premieres Dec. 16, 7:30 p.m.
Since launching in 2014, Music for the Winter Solstice has become a tradition that is anything but traditional. This winter, we’re not able to gather in person, but we can still revel in luminous music for long dark nights. For 2020, Music on Main has gathered favourite moments and never-seen-before footage from past years, and filmed a brand-new performance from vocalists Corey Payette and Julie McIsaac with pianist Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa. Hosted by Music on Main’s artistic director David Pay, this year’s pandemic-proof video edition of Music for the Winter Solstice also includes performances by Caroline Shaw, Steve Maddock, Gabriel Kahane, Veda Hille, Carman Price, Karen Gerbrecht, and others performing music to drive away the darkness, and welcome the light.
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Panto Come Home!
In 2020’s online presentation of Panto Come Home! Theatre Replacement’s Artistic Directors James Long and Maiko Yamamoto sneak into the York to find a very sad pyjama-clad Veda Hille parked at her piano. Seems she’s moved into the theatre and has been spending her days trying to relive Panto memories of old. In an attempt to cheer her up they call up a bunch of their Panto friends to sing and dance the greatest East Van Panto hits. Things go sideways fast when the Phanto of the Panto swoops in. He’s been watching these things ever since Jack and the Beanstalk opened the York eight years ago and has a few choice ideas of his own. Physically-distanced antics ensue! For more information, check out The Cultch’s website.
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Home for the Holidays
Dec. 18, 2020–Jan. 1, 2021
The Gateway Theatre has been bringing the magic of musical theatre to Richmond since 1984, and this year will be no different – except for being in the theatre, theatregoers will be digitally transported right into the homes of the artists themselves. Immerse yourself in the wondrous world of musicals this holiday season! Gather safely with family and cozy up at home with timeless classics from Annie, The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music and more! This online special pairs the excitement of a night at the theatre with all the comforts of your home. Please check out the theatre’s website for more information.
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Christmas with Chor Leoni
Dec. 18, 2020–Jan. 1, 2021
Warm your home with holiday favourites, luminous carols, and festive surprises sung by Vancouver’s JUNO-nominated Chor Leoni Men’s Choir. Christmas with Chor Leoni invites the voices of Chor Leoni into your home for an hour of beauty that you can sit down to enjoy, featured as the soundtrack to your holidays, or both! You can watch and listen as many times you want between Dec. 18 and Jan. 1. Please visit Chor Leoni’s website to RSVP your online digital link.